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World Control Panel 

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World Control Panel 

Written By: Steve Lodefink 


CNC cutter m 

(optional) 1 wish I'd used one for all the 


Center punch (1) 

with a sharp tip 

Computer and inkjet printer (1) 

Drill and bits m 

1/6". 1/8". 13/64". 11/32". 10mm You'll 

also need bits to match your toaales and 

buttons: ours were about 1/4" and 9/32". 

File or belt sander (1) 

to deburr and round aluminum edaes 

Hammer (1) 

Hot glue gun (1) 

Router with rabbeting bit (1) 


Rubber Mallet (1) 

(optional) to flatten the aluminum if vou 

bend it 

Sander, random orbit (1) 


Switches, toggle, panel mount (7) 

Switches, momentary, panel mount (1) 

medium (2). anv size (1) for sound 

buttons and the Larson Scanner mode 


EMS Larson Scanner Kit from (1) 

Get the one with the 10mm diffused 


Diaital recordina module (1) 

9V RadioShack #276- 1323. 

LEDs. 3mm. diffused (1) 

blue (25). red (10). amber (10) 

LEDs. 5mm H) 

areen (4). red (2) for switch indicators 

LED. 5mm. flashinq (2) 

the kind with the intearated flasher 

Resistors, various values (62) 

All LEDs in this project need current- 

limitinn resistors values tor 

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World Control Panel 

Sandpaper. 50 and 180 grits (1) 
Screwdriver, Phillips head (1) 
Soldering iron and solder (1) 
Spray-mount adhesive (1) 
Table saw or miter saw (1) 
Wire cutters and strippers (1) 

different a at 4.5V 

are: red 180C1. blue 68D. white 68Q. 

green 120C1. and amber 150Q. But be 

sure to use resistors that are appropriate 

for the actual LEDs that you use. 

Cable ties, small (7) 

Heat-shrink tubing (1) 


IC. 555 timer (1) 

Transistor. PNP. 2907 type (1) 

Resistors: 4.7kQ (1). 150kQ (1) (1) 

Capacitor, electrolytic. 1 F (1) 

Capacitor, ceramic. 0.1 mF (1) 

LEDs. high brightness (1) 

white (7). wide angle: red (3) 

Pert board, about 2" x 3" (1) 

Hardwood lumber (1) 

1"x4". 26" total length 

Aluminum sheet (1) 


Plywood (1) 

1 "x 11 "x 151/2" 

Diffusion paper or gels (1) 

such as #B000265DJU 

Testors decal paper, clear (1) 

Acrylic sealant, clear (1) 

Wood screws, small (8) 

Wood glued) 

Battery holder. 3x AA(1) 

Hookup wire (1) 

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World Control Panel 


This video can't be played with your current s 

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install Adobe Flash Player. I 

My son Harlan and his pals love to play "Agents." When he asked me if I could build him a 
control panel that had "a bunch of switches and random blinking lights," I couldn't have been 

I have to admit, I have a bit of a control panel fetish, and my favorite thing about electronics 
tinkering is making lights blink — which is just about all this device really does. 

I immediately imagined some kind of backlit, brushed-metal map of the world, with a radar 
scanner and a variety of indicator lights and toggle switches that would allow him to com- 
municate with field agents, remotely dispatch weaponized sharks, or detect enemy activity. 

The console employs a combination of readymade and custom circuits to achieve various 
lighting and sound effects. Ours is used for world domination, but the same basic panel 
would work equally well for tracking the migration of a swarm of Monarch butterflies, or 
detecting unicorns, if that's what you need. Here's how I built it. 

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World Control Panel 

Step 1 — Design the panel. 

• I had a solid idea of how the 
perforated map display might work, 
but I wasn't sure how to achieve 
my vague "radar scanner" concept. 

• Then I remembered that Evil Mad 
Science (where else would you buy 
parts for a world domination 
panel?) sells a kit to build a Larson 
Scanner — you know, that light- 
chaser effect made famous in the 
Knight Rider and Battlestar 
Galactica TV shows. It's perfect for 
"scanning the world" before flipping 
the various function switches. 

• I also ordered amber, blue, and red 
3mm diffused LEDs from EMS. 

• RadioShack's digital sound- 
recording module sells for $10 and 
uses nonvolatile memory, so your 
last recorded sound isn't lost when 
the power goes away. I added one 
of these to the panel to serve as a 
"field communicator." 

• In keeping with the 1960s sci-fi/spy 
motif I had in mind, I decided to 
control everything with a bank of 
classic metal toggle switches and 
indicator lights. 

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World Control Panel 

Step 2 — Build the cabinet. 

3" 1 ^J — 

1 r" 


• You can use a pre-built enclosure, or build your own. Here's how I made mine, angled 
toward the operator like an old studio mixer. 

• For the left and right sides, cut an 1 1" length of 1"x4" hardwood lumber in half diagonally, 
creating 2 pieces, each 1" high at one end and 3" at the other. For the front and rear sides, 
cut a 15" length straight across to leave a 1" wide piece for the front, and a 3" piece for the 

• Miter all 4 sidepieces to 45°, then clamp and glue them like a picture frame. Once the glue 
has dried, sand the joints flush. (I had to add screws later because glue wouldn't stick to 
the oily ipe wood that I used — don't use ipe!) 

• Cut a bottom panel 11"x15-1/2" from 1/8" plywood and attach it with 4 wood screws. 

• The top panel is a 14-1/2"x10" piece of 1/8" aluminum sheet. I used a router to cut a 1/8"- 
deep rabbet in the topside of the wooden frame, to allow the top panel to sit flush. Then I 
rounded the corners of the aluminum with a 50-grit sanding block to match the radius of 
the rabbeting bit. 

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World Control Panel 

Step 3 — Prepare the panel. 

• Figure out exactly where you want all your controls and displays to go. Once you're 
satisfied with your layout, mark everything for drilling with a scribe or punch. 

• I found a "pixel map" of the world online, and scaled it to a size that worked well with my 
panel dimensions. I printed it out as a template and glued it to the panel with spray mount. 
Then I used a center punch and hammer to mark each "pixel" for drilling. 

• Since I would be inserting 3mm LEDs through some of the map holes, I drilled them with a 
1/8" bit, which is a little over 3mm. 

• Then I drilled holes for the Larson Scanner, the sound recorder's speaker grill and mic, the 
toggle switches and 5mm indicator LEDs, and the buttons that operate the sound recorder 
and Larson Scanner. You can download my drilling template . 

• Finally, I drilled 4 small holes near the corners, for screws to secure the panel. 

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World Control Panel 

Step 4 — Prepare the panel. (Continued) 

• Once all the drilling was done, I pounded the panel flat with a rubber mallet, and used a 
random-orbit sander to deburr all the holes at once and clean up the panel. 

• To give the aluminum a nice "brushed" look, I hand sanded it with 180 grit in long, even, 
horizontal strokes. 

• Since I was planning to use backlighting effects for the map display, I glued a sheet of 
photographic diffusion paper to the backside of the map, to act as a rear projection screen. 
You can just poke holes in the diffusion paper wherever you want to install an LED. 

• Finally, I printed some free web Ul icons ("Brightmix" icons, from ) 
on a sheet of clear Testors decal paper and applied the appropriate icon above each toggle 
switch hole. These decals need to be sealed with clear acrylic before use. 

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World Control Panel 

Step 5 — Install toggles and batteries. 

• Install the toggle switches and indicator lights into their mounting holes. I cinched small zip 
ties around the base of each indicator LED as spacers so they sit near-flush with the 
panel. Wire it up so that the main power switch feeds power to the rest of the switches, 
and each switch powers its own indicator LED. 

• Power is supplied by a 3xAA battery box mounted to the back panel. Use alligator clips to 
temporarily connect it to the main power switch. You'll connect and disconnect it many 
times during assembly and troubleshooting. 

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World Control Panel 

Step 6 — Build the "red alert" flasher circuit. 

• I wanted a flashing backlight effect to indicate a "global red alert" situation. To achieve the 
flash, I turned to the good old 555 timer IC. 

• I found a simple 555 flasher circuit on the web and built it onto a small piece of perf board. 

I used the 555's output to flash 7 white LEDs through a single PNP transistor. I also added 
3 bright red 10mm LEDs (these don't flash) to the board. Follow the schematic to build the 

• Leave the LED leads long so you can bend them to direct the light to different areas of the 
map. Mount the flasher board to the bottom panel with hot glue so it can project its light 
onto the back of the map. The switch indicator lamp for the "red alert" function is a 5mm 
red flashing LED. 

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World Control Panel 

Step 7 — Add the map LEDs. 

• Four of the toggle switches control clusters of different colored LEDs — in my case, blue 
for major cities, red for Atlantic coastal areas, amber for "Eastern locations," and a single 
blue LED for Seattle, our home base. 

• I also wired a red flashing LED behind the panel parallel with the Seattle LED, to illuminate 
the surrounding holes with a flashing "home base" effect. These functions feature green 
power indicator LEDs above their switches. All of the LEDs in this project require 
appropriate current-limiting resistors. 

• To wire the through-hole map lights, I first harvested some twisted-pair wiring from an old 
network cable I found in the trash. The wire inside these cables is conveniently color- 
coded and pre-bundled into pairs — great for hand-wiring small electronics projects. 

• Solder a current-limiting resistor and a length of colored wire pair to each 3mm LED, and 
then insert the LEDs into the map holes from behind, securing each with a dab of glue. 

• Then gather up the similarly colored LED wires and solder the anode wires to their 
respective power switches, and the cathode wires to ground. 

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World Control Panel 

Step 8 — Install scanner and sound. 

• The Larson Scanner is configured to run on 3V power. Since the World Control Panel 
operates on 4.5V, you'll have to replace the kit's current- limiting resistors with new 120Q 

• The scanner PCB also has a momentary switch that controls its speed and brightness; I 
replaced it with a panel-mount button. 

• Install the sound module by hot-gluing both the speaker and the PCB to the backside of the 
top panel. I replaced the onboard buttons for recording and playback with a pair of red and 
black panel-mount momentary buttons. Although the datasheet for the module specifies 9V 
power, mine worked fine with 4.5V. 

• Finally, solder the wires to the battery box, and secure the panel with 4 wood screws. 

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World Control Panel 

Step 9 — Take It Further 

• The World Control Panel is really 
just a fun box of switches and 
lights, but the platform begs for 
further development. Imagine 
adding USB, wireless data, 
microcontrollers, BlinkM smart 
LEDs, and other technology to 
improve the fun — or to really start 
monitoring and controlling your 
global concerns. 

• Let us know what you do with 
yours in the comments. 

This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 32 . page 134. 

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